microbreweries find local ingredients
The rapidly expanding craft brewing industry, with its emphasis on quality and diversity, relies on superior ingredients. The fresher and more local, the better. Vermont microbreweries can now buy locally grown hops and barley — two of beer’s main ingredients — thanks to UVM Extension agronomist Heather Darby.
Over the past five years, Darby has secured grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an effort to help Vermont farmers increase hops yields while reducing pesticide use. As local interest in barley has grown, Darby and UVM Extension have been conducting trials to evaluate the quality of barley available to Vermont farmers, craft breweries and distilleries.
“There’s a really strong local food movement, which spans into the beverage industry as well,” says Darby. “Microbreweries are growing fast, and there are lots of fledgling hops farmers. My hope is that we can develop practices that not only protect the environment but also help farmers be economically viable.”